Wooden Shjips at The Grand Social – Review
Wooden Shjips – The Grand Social, Saturday 14th December 2013Space rockers ‘Wooden Shjips’ played their psychedelic 60’s Krautrock infused anthems at The Grand Social in Dublin on the final night of their European tour in promotion of the album ‘Back to Land’. Inside the jam packed venue you could hear the drum and bass of ‘Twinkranes’, their support act, as you came up the stairs, well selected and they are definitely worth checking out. After Twinkranes heavier psychedelic sound, the night took a more laid back turn, one of pleasure inside our ear drums and candy to our eyes.
Wooden Shjips opened with ‘Black Smoke Rise’, the crowd crushed in while interference and a pixelated light-show splattered black, purple and white post-psychedelic patterns across the band and most of us in the audience. They eased us in a languid pace with the spacey synth organ sound of Nash Whalen, Omar Ahsanuddin on drums, the usual bass guitar of Dusty Jermier against the backdrop of Erik ‘Ripley’ Johnsons incomprehensible, yet perfectly fitting vocals.
Ahsanuddin’s clashing drums and both Ripley and Dusty’s scintillating riffs sound similar to ‘Suicide’, ‘The Velvet Underground’ and ‘ZZ Top’, a vibe on sound felt in every corner of their next song ‘Other Stars’. White clothing allowed the musicians to act as canvases for their light show, for us to view and appreciate their splatters, interference and white chaotic lines, while our eyes picked up the pieces and ears knit together their sound – it felt as though we were physically standing inside their sound and art form.
Formed in 2003, from an idea Ripley had about creating an unstructured primitive sound containing band members playing instruments for the first time or with minimal musical experience – for example Dusty Jermier originally joined to play saxophone. Having no interest in performing live, the band took years to hit the live circuit and when they finally created their first album, they received rave reviews and even were ear marked by Rolling Stone magazine.
Johnson’s vocal just cruised on for ‘Motorbike’, enticing us into their world. ‘Fallin’ was quite chilled out, the entire crowd rocked along enjoying the spectacle and with Omar’s drums trouncing alongside Johnson’s awesome vocal, a beat hard that was difficult not to dance to. ‘Ruins’ saw more amazing psychedelic distortion on guitar. ‘For So Long’, their psychedelic guitarmanship, warped us into the zone as relaxing blue and white pixels slashed across the screen, as the crowd shouted for more.
Trippy circles appeared on the walls, the organ became looser, then Ripley’s vocal gradually became louder for ‘Flight.’ with its nice sixties infused keys, very ‘The Velvet Underground’ in style as the crowd danced and rocked out to it.
Gradually the pace slowed as Johnson pulled one incredible Neil Young-esque guitar solo, stunning. ‘Aquarian Time’ – there is only two words to describe this song ‘holy fuck’. Frantic, neurotic head banging for ‘Death’s Not Your Friend’, this warped beauty of a song thrilled us from start to finish. Ending on a Snapper cover called ‘Buddy’, they ended and exited the stage amidst cheers, finally the pixels broke into one line and the show ended.
A spectacular show by Wooden Shjips – we look forward to seeing these guys on Irish shores again.
Review by Aine Byrne